Published March 15, 2018


March 15, 2018

Art Gallery of Guelph
358 Gordon St.
Guelph, ON N1G 1Y1

Join the Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG), our members and partners, as we delve into the best strategies, skills and practices associated with permanently disposing of collections. Participants will receive guidelines that will facilitate decision-making when disposing items from their institution’s collections, to ensure that any disposal will benefit their organization, the collection in question and the public.


Deaccessioning is the permanent removal (by sale, trade, gift, trade, recycle and/or destruction) of collection items. In recent years, the deaccessioning of artifacts, places of artwork and entire collections from museums, galleries, libraries, and universities archives have ignited many expository discussions amongst directors, curators, arts administrations, artists, lawyers, politicians and the public alike. As it stands, many cultural institutions within North America, for various reasons, are either currently deaccessioning items from their collections, or will resort to such tactics in the near future. If approached appropriately, deaccessioning can be an intrinsic component in maintaining the integrity of a collection, as well as strengthens its value. If done poorly, deaccessioning can result in negative publicity, unbidden financial obligation and in severe cases indictment. This workshop will examine the collection disposal process through best practice strategies and conceptual topics.


Ana Olson, Gallery Director at Glenhyrst Gallery of Brant
Matthew Ryan Smith, Ph.D., Curator at Glenhyrst Gallery of Brant
Dawn Owen, Curator, Guelph Museums
Andrea Zeifman, COO & Senior Appraisers at A.H. Wilkens Auctions and Appraisals
Glen  Bloom, Retired Lawyer/Partner at Olser, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP
Lloyd DeWitt, Ph.D., Chief Curator and Irene Leache Curator of European Art, Chrysler Museum of Art


1. Learning from the Past: Case Studies/Contexts

Presenters will speak about their contexts and cases of deaccessioning and disposal. This session will highlight why institutions chose to dispose and the methods and considerations taken. A range of approaches and angles will be discussed and panelists will include participants from Art Gallery of Guelph, Glenhyrst, A.H. Wilkens Auctions and Appraisals, and other galleries. Participants will gain insights into how their own institution may consider disposal and deaccessioning their collection.

2. Legal, ethical and professional standards: This section will cover key areas such as:

  • Legal restriction that will affect a cultural institution from disposaing certain items from their collection
  • Unacceptable reasons to dispose of an item or collection
  • Upon deciding to dispose of an item or collection, whose views should be sought in the process
  • Proper use of the proceedings from disposal
  • Strategies for cultural institutions to communicate the divestment of a collection to the press in a positive manner

3. Methods of Disposal topic will cover:

  • Free gift or transfer to another accredited cultural institution
  • Exchange of items between cultural institutions
  • Sale of items to an accredited cultural institution
  • Return to donor
  • transfer outside the public domain
  • sale outside the public domain
  • recycling vs. destruction

With Resources on:

Defining the terms Deaccessioning and Disposal will cover areas in:

  • Policy
  • Procedure
  • Documentation
  • Resources


OAAG gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the Museums Assistance Program for their support.

OAAG gratefully acknowledges the Art Gallery of Guelph for venue and logistical support.